Embracing Diversity: Ania’s journey

In the tranquil embrace of gardens, Ania Balducci, Professor of Horticultural Therapy at the University of Bologna and member of the GreenME Advisory Board, shares her personal story of growth and revelation.

With a gentle wisdom, Ania unfolds her path of understanding and acceptance, revealing the transformative power of diversity.

“In recent years, I’ve mainly worked with young adults with cognitive disabilities” Ania begins. She speaks of witnessing their transition into adulthood and the loss of hope for a fulfilling social life due to the challenges they face. 

One particular experience stands out: 

“For a year, I had a non-verbal autistic young man in my group,” she recalls. He was nearing the end of his time at an agricultural high school. “Working with him in the garden helped me realise something unexpected,” Ania reflects. “It made me see how society’s view of disability has led to discrimination against those with different neurological makeups.”

Ania’s journey prompts us to reconsider societal norms and perceptions. Through horticultural therapy, she provides a safe space for individuals to embrace their uniqueness. “Everyone has strengths,” Ania emphasises. “It’s about recognizing and nurturing them.”

Her involvement with the GreenME project underscores her dedication to inclusivity. “I believe in creating environments where everyone feels valued,” Ania asserts. She sees her work as planting seeds of change for a future where diversity is celebrated.